Monday, April 30, 2012

Rain and Shine

Weather-wise, yesterday was miserable: it was so wet and sooo freezing, and we didn’t really accomplish much but it was still a pretty alright day! The plan was to go to Westminster Abbey, but we didn’t take into consideration that it was Sunday and the Abbey would be closed for worship. Still, it was nice to wander around Westminster, which is absolutely beautiful. We had brekky at a very, very, very strange Italian restaurant: possibly the most gaudy place I’ve ever seen, and a mean waiter who wouldn’t let us order bacon with our eggs on toast.

Does it get any more stereotypically English than this? 

Horse Guard

Westminster Abbey - closed :(

So we decided to catch the tube to Oxford Street to do some shopping: I needed a phone and a cardi, Mads needed jeans and boots. Unfortunately it seems the British are either deluded or just wishfully thinking it’s hot and are selling only very, very summery clothing. Strike two!

Mads FINALLY gets her Star Bar fix.

As a result, we thought it might be a fun idea to head over to 221b Baker Street – those literary (or Robert Downey Jnr) aficionados out there will immediately recognise the address as belonging to Sherlock Holmes – seeing as we were in the area. There was a fair line out the front waiting to get in, but we bought a ticket and joined the queue. Naturally the rain started getting a bit harder while we were in line, I think Inspector Lestrade out the front thought we were all a bit nuts and suggested we go and get a brolly from the sports shop down the road on our way home. The museum was fun, only a little too crowded to be thoroughly enjoyable. The first couple of floors are presented as Holmes and Watson’s rooms, the rest houses fun props from the stories and slightly creepy full-sized figures of various characters. But possibly the best part of the museum: the gift shop!! Books, pipes, deerstalker hats, other fun Holmes-related memorabilia.

Me and Inspector Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes Museum

Holmes' living room. Notice the deerstalker hat on the coffee table!

We headed back to Walthamstow to dry our feet, then went to church at St Helen’s Bishopsgate in the city. It’s an absolutely amazing church, built around 700 years ago and full of Elizabethan effigies and 17th Century memorial plaques. Apparently Shakespeare was once part of the congregation. It was nice to meet some of Madsy’s friends; we had dinner together in the church.

Downtown Walthamstow

Today we went to possibly my favourite place in the world, Hampton Court Palace, home of Henry VIII. It is a very intense and amazing experience walking in the footsteps of one of England’s most famous monarchs – you can almost feel his presence as you walk through the Great Hall and the Great Watching Chamber. The palace itself is absolutely stunning, and seeing as it was a perfect day with the sun shining, we spent a lot of time in the gardens. We had a go at the hedge maze and actually got lost, trying to find our way around for about 20 minutes, getting slightly desperate, before Mads switched her noggin on and we found the centre and, more importantly, the exit!! We explored the gardens for a while, taking in the royal tennis court, the magnificent flowers, and having a ride on a horse-drawn buggy thing. We even saw Henry himself having a wander.

The BEST hot chocolate on the planet, bought on the train platform at Hampton Court.

Hampton Court Palace, my future home.

Base Court


A lone tulip in the informal gardens. So artsy, as Mads put it, I should have put it on instagram.

The backyard. Apparently this is where 'Mary Mary Quite Contrary' originated.

Formal gardens

Into the hedge maze!

Completely lost.

Made it, finally!! The centre of the maze.

Horse drawn buggy thing.

Mads and the Thames.

Me and Aragon.

Henry VIII!!!

In to the palace next, viewing an exhibition of portraits of Charles II’s many, many mistresses, Henry VIII’s apartments,  and the Tudor Kitchens before Mads headed back to Walthamstow for her pre-match ritual (City has a VERY important game against the evil United), and I stayed back to continue exploring the palace like the good little nerd that I am! I think when I move in I think I will take over the Georgian apartments. Eventually I managed to tear myself away and headed back to the flat, navigating the tube all by myself and finding my way home without getting too lost!! Crumbed chicken and potatoes for dinner, and now to just eagerly await the results of the City/United game... and what kind of mood Mads will be in for the rest of the week...

Henry VIII's Great Hall. 

The entrance to what used to be Henry VIII's private rooms. 

Mads in the Great Watching Chamber

Fish Court. 

The firebug with a bloody great fire. Bliss!

The Cartoon Gallery. This will be an excellent space in which to have my housewarming party.

A tudor lady.

This just in: City won so we are all good and jolly! 

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